Chapter 9, in which the Soviet plan gets a thumbs up from the big boy
“And if your plan had been disapproved? How would you explain these enormous expenditures to the Politburo?” the General Secretary thunders.
“I had confidence in the wisdom of the plan.”
“You are lucky to have such distinguished friends, or the wisdom of your plan, as you call it, would mean nothing, especially if the science simply didn’t exist.”
“Of course. It was a chance I took, but I felt it worth taking.”
The General Secretary squints and rubs his temples. His very public confrontational persona is at times a veneer. At this moment, he knows that what he is about to embark upon could change the course of history, or lead to his execution, or both. He focuses on the former of the two possibilities knowing full well that the latter is a mundane fact of political life in the Soviet Union.
“We will need to divert the attention of the Americans. And running guns to some amateur anticolonial revolt won’t come close to doing the trick.”
Kasparanov is surprised by the General Secretary’s cynical frankness. Surprised and pleased. It means he is trusted. It means the plan is approved!
The General Secretary walks over to a map of the world that adorns the entire west wall of his office. He scans the map, rubbing his plump chin as he ponders what he considers to be the missing piece of Kasparanov’s daring gamble. And then it hits him. Cuba! It’s perfect. The island has been a dilemma for the Americans for nearly their entire history. Any move by the Soviet Union will instantly get the full attention of the young president and his ridiculously suspicious government. He decides at that moment to put Kasparanov, who he must admit continues to display a genius for strategic planning, on the problem.
“Cuba, Yevgeny Nikolaievitch. Cuba. I’ll leave it to you, but the diversion is Cuba. The Americans are sick over Castro and their foolish Bay of Pigs adventure. Cuba is a thorn in their side, and I want you to figure out how to twist that thorn, how to cause them so much pain that they can see nothing else. Then, and only then, can your plan succeed.”
The General Secretary continues to stare at the map. Kasparanov, knowing the meeting is over, discreetly leaves the room, his mind racing with possibilities for the Soviet Union’s ally only 90 miles from American soil.